Our armchair, affectionately known as the “lollipop” chair, was made circa 1880. George Jakob Hunzinger (born 1835 in Tuttingen, Germany), was a progressive designer out of New York who was often influenced in his designs by machinery; their geometry and patterns of repetition in their elements. This is a Hunzinger original, a family piece, which has weathered more than a century of continuous use.
Note: Mitchell muses about the process in several areas; these parts are italicized.
To begin, go to:
Hunzinger “Lollipop” Chair, 1 Excavation;
Huntzinger “Lillipop” Chair, 2 Frame Reparation;
Hunzinger “Lollipop” Chair, 3 Finish.
This is the last post on the Hunzinger “Lollipop” Chair, 4 Upholstery.
Our finish treatment was completed on the frame right, in our last post.
Hunzinger’s original design allowed for the convenience of crafting the upholstery without the burden of working around the fixed points of the inside-back and interior arm frame. Unfortunately, the damage caused by previous unskilled repairs ended all possibility of recrafting the traditional upholstery with the decorative spindled back unit separated from the seat. MPFC had to devise strategies to make it possible to perform all the steps required during a traditional upholstery build-up.
Ultimately, after restoring the fiber filled seat pod, it was still challenging to easily tack the show-cover onto the side rails using traditional means (tack hammer and tacks) and so it was decided to secure the leather show-cover to the restored tacking margins using wide chisel pointed upholstery staples shot from a long nosed stapler.
Relative to this upholstery conservation/restoration project our decision was to make certain that the seat build-up could perform as it was originally intended while at the same time preserving/encasing the levels of the original stuffings within the restored set and in that way future generations, when uncovering the seat internals can see and identify the historic pod. To that end we begin the documentation of the phase of this multi pronged conservation effort. We will begin with:
THE HISTORIC FIBER POD
The historic seat pod was cleaned of dirt and debris using a vacuum with the suction level set low. To insure large particles and artifacts did not slip through during vacuuming cheese cloth was attached to the extraction wand. The cleaned fiber pod was set aside for re-installation, during the upholstery phase, after the frame and finish issues were treated and resolved. (below).
THE SECONDARY STUFFING & FIBER POD TOPPER
The seat hair and cotton batting secondary build-up (above) were inspected after vacuuming. It was decided that the two levels of cotton batting ,each representing different times when the seat was reupholstered, were far too damaged to be used as future pod toppers, but the horse mane pod secondary topper could be hand blocked and teased then amended with fresh horsehair when it was reinstalled.
THE NEW SEAT SPRING WEBBING FOUNDATION
Fresh four inch wide jute webbing was applied in the same configuration and position as the original webbing. We were able to establish the original width and position of the spring webbing during the woodworking restoration phase. MPFC has created a tack and previous repair plotting system which we use on upholstered historic objects which maps and delineates the succession of upholstery. We plotted the tacking positions using clear sheet vinyl over the tacking margins both seat top and bottom. We identified all tack holes by identifying their positions using various colors of a Sharpie marker set upon the surface of a heavy mill clear vinyl. When the vinyl was removed from the tacking surfaces and set onto a white board the transparency allowed us to not only discern the positions of foundational and show cover tacks, but also to detect patterns in the tacking groupings which then allowed us to interpret the patterns as positions and with of webbing and clear understanding as to how many upholstering had taken place.
Additional data gleaned from the tacking surfaces were the style of tacks and fiber trapped beneath the tacks. This allowed us to determine the time frames when the chair was originally upholstered, reupholstered, and what types of show covers had been installed.
The original positioning and width of the tacking pattern also allowed us to determine what the original designer and upholsterer intended relative to the sit of the sprung-up seat, which also determined the intended center of seating gravity and the intended comfort level of the sit.
THE FRESH SPRING-UP AND WEBBING LASHINGS
Seat springs were temporarily clinched into into place over the webbing prior to lashing the springs to the webbing. Once the springs were lashed with twine to the webbing the metal clinches were removed.
Mitchell decided to use a “Number 4” configuration with his lashings, departing from the Holbein configuration.
TYING OF THE HISTORIC, SECOND GENERATION, COIL SEAT SPRINGS
An eight-way double course spring tie was utilized to achieve a stable seat. The second generation springs were reused in spite of their slight distortion from years of listing within the degrading seat primarily because they were of a light gauge no longer available in the height and diameter required for the modest seat footprint. Therefore, the spring-tie we chose included double knotted and overlapping courses of twines around all edge springs forming fulcrums to insure the old springs could not revert to their previous distortions.
THE FIRST SEAT BUILD-UP “First Stuffing”
The tied coil springs were covered with a doubled layer of hessian which was tacked to the retrofitted interior frame aprons. The springs were lashed to the hessian in a Holbein pattern using a waxed linen cord. Teased polished coir was lashed to the perimeter of the seat edge using bridal stitches in order to amend and rectify lost loft and compression in the original worn fiber pod. The cleaned historic fiber pod made of flax tow was hand blocked then placed over the amended seat deck and gently lashed into position around the interior seat perimeter.
The original horsehair second stuffing was hand blocked and set over the historic pod then attached with a running stitch.
To encase the historic pod within the restored seat a final layer of fresh hessian was then stretched over the historic pod, edges under turned and tacked to the retrofitted tacking margins. A simple lashing was chosen to duplicate the original pod stitching with a simple perimeter roll and a finger stitched edge-roll which transited the front edge.
THE SECOND SEAT BUILD-UP “Second Stuffing”
A fresh layer of horse-hair was teased out on the restored pod then set under the bridal stitching.
The hair was then covered with a half thick layer of organic 50/50 cotton batting. Finally the second stuffing was encased beneath a 400ct cotton percale sheeting muslin, left, then tacked to the conserved tacking margins.
The seat was then ready for the final show-cover upholstery.
THE SHOW -COVER
A “pull-up” style aniline dyed two part colored hide with a waxed surface was chosen to mimic hides from the chair’s decorative period. A grain structure within the hide was chosen to reflect longevity and aesthetic appeal; the leather was cut, image #1 above.
A light layer of organic cotton batting was placed over the percale muslin to act as additional loft and create a buffer between the cloth and the back of the leather, image #2.
The leather was uniformly tacked to the restored tacking margins, above. A straight vertical pleat was chosen to install at the two front edge corners to reflect the typical single vertical pleating from the chairs decorative period. A thin coating of colored shellac was brush coated to the overlapping muslin to leather tacking edge (no image) in order to assure that any bleed or distortions to the upper leather decorative tape could not reveal materials beneath the tape.
A single line of leather was cut and skived to conform to the tacking edges and aged brass decorative nails were installed through the leather tape and into the tacking margin.
THE DUST COVER
Finally, a medium weight polished cotton twill was tacked to the conserved frame underside and the upholstery phase of the chair’s restoration was complete.
The Lollipop Chair is Complete!
A Slideshow of the Chair Restoration and Upholstering:
Written by Kate Powell & Mitchell Powell ©MPF Conservation.
May be printed for your own use ONLY, not for use on blogs without permission.
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